20 April 2020 2461 Views

Mission: Impolitflix! A Look at the Mission: Impossible Series.

by James Murphy

 

Your Mission..Should you choose to Accept it? Is to sit back, relax and listen to the team’s analysis of the Mission:Impossible series. 

 

The Secretary has disavowed us. We have Gone Rogue! James, Dave, Lucy and Tom look at the politics, plots, themes and style of the Mission:Impossible series.

The Team:

Dave Bond

Rev Dr Tom Atfield 

Lucy Edyvean. Lucy@lucyedyvean.com 

(Rory was due to join but a minor tech blip delayed him..he will rejoin us again next ep and was there in spirit!)

The Mission:

  • Attempt an overview of the 6 movies in the Tom Cruise Mission:Impossible series.
  • Focus on the Politics / Mythology / Thematic touches / history surrounding these movies.
  • Learn: How to pronounce ‘Book of Job’?
  • Ponder: Is Tom Cruise actually super-human?
  • Master how to run, dress, jump, walk, talk and plot a movie like Ethan Hunt.
  • Take on Bio-Pharma and the Industrial-Military Complex / find out who is the new big bad in a post cold war world?
  • Undergo therapy for a childhood grudge against Ken Branagh’s ‘toight’ pecs / crush on Emma Thompson and make up for missed opps at being real world spies.
  • ..All whilst probing the missions that almost were and making totally inaccurate guesses about missions yet to come..

CAVEATS: 

  • nb: James jokes about ‘getting arrested’ on having an allergic reaction to the film, Superman Returns (also released in summer ’06, alongside the third Mission movie). Just to assure Warners that whilst the movie was awful, he did not in fact, involve civil authorities in his epic three hour rant against the director, Mr Singer, upon the trauma of witnessing a crime against Cinema.  😉
  • nb #2: There is some speculation here about real life spying. It is an open secret now that, in days of Cold War ops, defence correspondents had accreditation to cover events in Eastern Europe, especially. Ian ‘James Bond’ Fleming was a mastermind of that operation, worldwide, in fact. Whether actual agents were recruited /deployed under that guise remains, for now, ‘top secret’. But in recent years, intelligence services have become more open in their conversations, especially with University students, about versatile and attractive career options. Whether you accept the invitation to apply? Well, it’s a simple matter of skill, timing, suitability, ambition and a measure of luck..much like many other Civil Service screenings..

 

Click, below and listen. It will self destruct. 

 

Show-Notes

Mission:Impossible started life as a television series in the 1960s. In some senses, it was a cash in on the (then) vogue for spy-craft on film. But its team dynamic, puzzle based plots, glamour and infectious theme tune ensured it ran..and ran..and ran. By 1973, the show had run its course and devolved from high stakes espionage scenarios to Cop show level car chases against drug runners and mafia groups etc. A brief, semi reboot/restart emerged in 1988 and was short lived, given its limited budgets and awkward continuity with /repetition of its 60s counterpart series. The IP itself was a strong one, though, and could not be ignored.

And so it was that Paramount and Tom Cruise teamed on developing a film treatment for the brand. The news hit the trade papers by around 1993/4, with the first film released in summer of 1996.

M:I-1 is a tight, suspenseful, beautifully framed, filmed and edited thriller. Romantic, pacy, complex yet accessible; dark yet light: the movie is a perfect balance of tones and textures. Paul Hirsch’s editing matches perfectly to Brian DePalma’s direction as ever, backed by Danny Elfman’s haunting and rousing score. Though by no means an adaptation of its source material or even particularly faithful (Phelps as a baddie?!), it nonetheless expands and develops the mythology and aesthetic. A huge hit on its release, with peak era leading man Cruise drawing optimal attention..sequels were inevitable. It just took a while because Tom was busied on Eyes Wide Shut.

M:I-2 was a flashier affair. Wall to wall action! Very much of its time in aesthetic and motif. Sublime score from Hans Zimmer, though he neglects to riff enough on the classic Lalo Schifrin themes. Kinetic edits from Christian Wagner. Once again, we have an IMF agent gone bad (Dougray Scott) and he is very fond of shouting ‘HUNT’. Bio-pharma provides the plot point here, when a virus is made and its antidote placed on the black market in concert in a bid to make a lot of MONEY. Tom sports oddly long hair here but continues his trend of climbing high mountains, riding fast bikes and basically doing the and being the..well, impossible?! Trivia: This movie was almost made by Oliver Stone!

M:I-3: Ethan gets hitched, round about the same time as Tom Cruise? Reel life and real mirror each other here. Paramount took notice and were not best pleased, abruptly ending the studio’s partnership with the star. The six year gap in development (losing both David Fincher and Joe Carnahan as writer/directors) did not help matters. Tom endured and bought his own studio (United Artists). Mission 3 is notable for launching JJ Abrams as the Reboot Director of choice, something he would go onto repeat for both Star Wars and Trek. We will never know what the ‘Rabbit’s Foot’ is, though it could be an extinction level event causing nuke /bio-weapon?

Simon Pegg has a cameo (effectively as the tech guy akin to Emilio Estevez from the fist film); stepping in after Ricky Gervais was unavailable. Pegg went onto become a franchise staple here, a kind of comedy double act with Cruise amidst the action. The plot here probes certain industrial-military ethics though frankly it does not matter next to a primal struggle between Ethan Hunt and one of the series’ best baddies (the late Philip Seymour Hoffman).

Ghost Protocol will be remembered, forever, for THAT sequence at Burj Khalifa. The plot is simple, cut and paste espionage of the Cold War yet post Cold War variety (ie you go to Russia and you use its menace but the Russians per se are not ‘baddies’?). Countdown clock to nuclear war etc. A perfect sense of pitch and pace to the piece. Great use of IMAX and locations, from the Kremlin to Dubai and India. The team dynamic is well and truly at work and in evidence, though Cruise remains the star here and wrestled away any notions of this being a torch passing movie to Jeremy Renner (or even Josh Holloway or Paula Patton?). Léa Seydoux is a true standout here and would go onto play a Bond muse in SPECTRE and No Time To Die.

Rogue Nation is a romp; an intriguing espionage story and a masterclass in action choreography. The series has now hit a stride. The tone is confidently fun: clearly balancing tension with a general sheen of boys’ own hokey adventure.

Chris McQuarrie joins as director and so began his now ongoing term as Cruise’s co-pilot in plotting the course of this franchise. London features prominently for the first time since part 1 and we have some nasty British baddies as antagonists. Standout scene is probably the night at the opera or the opening on the plane.

FALLOUT is a blast of sheer adrenaline from start to finish. Paris AND London both shine, brightly. The HALO jump, bike AND car chase and THAT near fatal run across rooftops make this one of the best action pictures of the last decade at least. The stakes go higher (nuclear holocaust / water supply loss are on the table) and the tone is correspondingly rather rough and ready and ‘dark and gritty’. But the overall feeling is popcorn portal to escapist fun. Each scene a mini movie in itself that you can play on repeat and in its own right. Henry Cavill arguably steals the show, but this is still Cruise’s series. Lorne Balfe’s score is THE best thing you can run to, even if currently having to do so indoors!

Missions 7 and 8 are currently in back to back production. Rumoured content currently includes car/boat chases in Italy and a setpiece in Washington. they are not going to space. But Henry Czerny is back as Kittridge (Horray! Long overdue! Ally? Antagonist? All out baddie? Victim? Who knows?..). Hayley Atwell and Nicholas Hoult also on board.  Release expected for 2021/22, subject to current delays.

 

POLITFLIX WILL RETURN ON THE HIGH SEAS. THANK YOU FOR LISTENING. PLEASE STAY SAFE, WELL AND INDOORS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. 

THIS WILL SELF DESTRUCT..LIGHT THE FUSE



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